Half a century ago, communications were nice and simple. You could talk to people, or write a letter or you could phone them. If things were really urgent, you could send a telegram.
Phones were nice and simple. Not every house had one [it was quite a status symbol!]. They were bulky bakalite yokes with dials on. You could wear the tip off your finger if you did much dialling.
Public phones were great. You still had the old bakalite phone, but there was a big box underneath. You put in your 2d [if you don’t know what 2d is, ask your grandparents] and you dialled the number. If the person answered, you pressed button “A” and got talking. And once you were through, you could talk all day for no extra cost.
If you got the wrong number, or if you suddenly decided you didn’t want to talk, you pressed button “B” and you money shot back out into the little scoop. This was a great source of income to the local kids, as they would stuff a bit of paper up the scoop to block the money. They would then return in the evening, remove the paper and out would shoot all the returned coins. Of course, I never did that.
Things have changed a bit since then. Letters have more or less died the death. That’s a pity, because letters had the personal touch. You knew someone cared enough to take the trouble to write. Now it’s all e-mails. Impersonal. A tap of the fingers and it’s gone. I know it’s fast and convenient, but I miss the handwriting.
And some twit invented mobile phones. The curse of the modern age. Now every five year old seems to have one. And they are not just phones. They’re cameras, and calculators and even mobile computers. They are everywhere. I have seen mothers phone their kids in the supermarket, to find which aisle the child is in. “I’m at the freezer section. Are you over at the baked beans?”
There is no peace any more. You can be sitting chatting to someone and their pocket starts warbling a strangled version of Madonna or the 1812 overture. And they whip it out and start a conversation in front of you. Weird. You go down to the pub for a quiet pint and these yokes are buzzing and wailing all around you. You sit on the bus or the train and there is always some prat yelling into his mobile that he [or she] is on the bus or the train. Who cares? Is it that important?
And kids can’t spell any more because they use texting. They spend their time texting each other what a gr8 nite they had with their m8s. They even have become so brain dead that they send e-mails using text-speak, as if it is clever and “cool”. No. It’s a sign of illiteracy and lack of respect for the recipient.
I confess, I have a mobile. I didn’t want one, but it was given to me. I only give the number to close friends. I admit it does come in handy if I’m delayed somewhere and I want to let someone know I’ll be late. And if I want peace and quiet, or more importantly if I am visiting someone, I turn it off.
I just wish it had a button “B”.